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How An International Player Can Enter The Market Without Display Advertising







Decathlon is a manufacturer and a large network of sporting goods stores worldwide. The brand comprises 1,600 stores in more than 60 countries. Philosophy of the company: to make sports accessible to everyone.


  • to bring the brand to the Ukrainian market; 
  • ensure a constant increase in transactions on the website, maintaining positive ROMI.

Initial Data

These days western retailers are actively entering the Ukrainian market. Decathlon first announced the opening of their first stores in the spring of 2019. In Ukraine, they started to develop two business areas at once:

Retail: the brand is present online and has their offline stores open globally 

Production: The production of Soccer (Football) goalkeeper gloves, cross-country skis, hockey sticks and the upper part of hiking boots had been launched and continues to grow today. These items are supplied to Decathlon stores worldwide, including Decathlon Ukraine

Our team was responsible for the development and implementation of the PPC strategy of the Decathlon online store.


We researched the market capacity and existing demand. Emerging markets like in Ukraine have greater long-term growth potential. Statista forecasts that the Ukrainian audience and consumers in the "Sport" category will grow by ~ 80%, from 2.8 million to 4.6 million people by 2024.

The situation is different when entering a mature market. For example, when Decathlon first entered the German market, their product line was not popular with consumers. The audience was loyal to other retailers, and the brand had to build an association with Sporting goods → Decathlon, which took time to build.

Entering an emerging market allows a brand to quickly gain the market share and consumer loyalty


The Ukrainian audience were yet to become familiar with the Decathlon brand, while we faced the task of maximizing the brand’s presence in the SERP without losing profit. That’s why we decided to start working with the audience that has already formed a demand for certain categories of sporting goods. 

We focused on introducing Decathlon to the consumers that were looking for sports goods without being tied to a specific brand. Search campaigns and Google Shopping campaigns were a perfect fit for this task. That’s why we used them at the very beginning of the promotion, also dividing the work into three stages. New tools were gradually added. 

The reach was not our goal at the start. We aimed at making sure the website was present to users who were ready to buy here and now.

Why we didn’t start with media and video campaigns? 

First, the Ukrainian brand team had clear KPIs for the online store profitability. 

Second, the retailer's website presents a large assortment of goods from brands that are unfamiliar to the Ukrainian audience, which wasn’t in favor of display advertising either.

FIRST STAGE (quarter 2-3, 2019): Getting acquainted with the market

During the first stage, we needed to show what share of the Ukrainian market Decathlon can take and how users will react to the brand's product.

With this purpose we launched:

  • search campaigns for priority sports categories;
  • search campaigns with their own brands;
  • dynamic campaigns for the top products on the website;
  • branded campaign (to cover the small number of brand queries at this stage + in parallel, an offline store was opened).

At the initial stage, we worked with 17 sports categories from the online store in order to identify which of them could generate the first transactions. As the statistics showed, Decathlon had a great potential for growth:

  • search campaigns for priority sports categories (for example, “jogging shoes”); 
  • search campaigns with their own brands; 
  • dynamic campaigns for the top products on the website; 
  • branded campaign (to cover the small number of brand queries at this stage + in parallel, an offline store was opened).

Results of the first stage

+372% Transactions

+286% Revenue

SECOND STAGE (quarter 4, 2019): Launching smart strategies

During the second stage, we received clear KPIs for revenue from the client. To achieve this goal, we started by optimizing the current search campaigns. At that time, we already understood which product categories converted best, and decided to focus on these, disabling the rest. At the same time, we started testing smart strategies.

New tools added to already launched tools

  • Shopping campaigns (for example, “men’s running shoes”; “ski gloves”);

  • Dynamic remarketing in Google;
  • Dynamic remarketing on Facebook 

At the same time, the advertising costs during the second stage didn’t change. Because of this, some campaigns were running on a limited budget. With this initial data, we were able to almost double the number of transactions.

Results of the second stage

+89% Transactions

+54% Revenue

THIRD STAGE (quarter 1-3, 2020): Maximum of presence in the SERP

At the third stage, we were engaged in the development of the project to increase its share in the niche and maximize the revenue without increasing costs.

We optimized the search campaigns:

  • focused on seasonal product categories that performed predictably well. The main budget was allocated specifically on these, the rest of the sports categories were disabled. But in order to be present in the search for disabled categories, we have strengthened and expanded the DSA campaigns;
  • since we observed a trend of brand traffic increase, we included a branded campaign in test mode. The keywords in the campaign were created using the logic "Product + Decathlon" (for example, “swimwear decathlon”).

Focusing on seasonal product categories allowed us to increase revenue X2.

Along with that, during this period, the Decathlon website was moving to a new CMS platform, and feeds were updated. During this time, we had to reduce the activities aimed at promotion, but later we received a faster website and eliminated errors that accumulated during the first year of the Ukraine online store being active.

Results of the second stage

+60% Transactions

+93% Revenue

Overall results of three stages

+188% Transactions

+182% Revenue

+130% ROMI

In the summer of 2020, Kantar experts conducted another study, during which they interviewed respondents to find out if they knew about the Decathlon brand. And in 30% of cases the answer was yes. Compared to 2018, brand awareness has grown by 16.5%.

What’s next?

​​Our goal for the next period is to boost the revenue of the Decathlon online store. We plan to achieve the set KPIs by: 

  • Optimisation of the tools that are currently in use; 
  • New additions: Google (Local Campaigns, Discovery Ads, Shopping New Customer Acquisition), Facebook (Dynamic Prospecting); 
  • Expanding the semantics and adding new language versions of advertising campaigns; Testing smart strategies for the set goals (tCPA and tROAS strategies will be used); 
  • Online media support for major seasonal brand events.

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